I’m sure there are some people out there who will scoff at me and turn up their nose when I say this… but I LOVE ACRYLIC YARN!!!
Now, you must realize that acrylic yarn has changed so much (for the better!!!) since the days long ago when it was just so darn ITCHY! Today’s acrylic yarns are soft, supple, and in my opinion, FABULOUS!!
Yes, I even
like LOVE Red Heart Super Saver. I use it for many (most) of my projects. It’s not quite as soft as some other brands in the beginning, but simply running your items through the washer and dryer makes a world of difference!! I also love RHSS because it holds up so well through washing, wearing, and using. Sometimes the yarns that start off softer actually don’t hold up well at all, like Caron’s Simply Soft. Its so beautiful and shiny in it’s skein at the store, but I’ll be honest, this is one of my least favorite acrylic yarns.
One of my first big crocheting projects was a prayer shawl for my gram, using Caron Simply Soft. I used the All Shawl pattern by Doris Chan and it turned out beautifully! I was so proud of how it looked in the end!
But! A month or so after I gifted the shawl to my gram, I was visiting her at her house, and to my dismay, the yarn had gotten SO fuzzy and disheveled looking. I was EXTREMELY upset.
That exact anecdote is the reason I actually tend to choose a RHSS yarn first, before I would even think of using anything else.
Another acrylic yarn that I love and that I use most when I’m not using RHSS is Caron One Pound Yarn. It’s a nice soft acrylic that comes in a decent variety of colors, and I love that it comes in the big one pound skein. It works especially great for baby blankets!
Caron One Pound is the yarn I chose for the wrap that I’ll be demonstrating on. I used a pattern called Twilights Shadow Shawl. It’s available on Ravelry for only $2.99 and it’s well worth it! It’s another one of my all time favorite patterns. It’s also one that’s really easy to follow and works up quickly.
Now on to the real reason for this post… the myth that you can’t block acrylic yarn. I want to demystify this once and for all!! You don’t block acrylic in the same ways you may for other yarns, but that does not mean it can’t be done. The way you block acrylic is by steaming!
So first thing’s first, and that is to make sure the project you’re blocking is completely finished. Weave in all of your ends before you block to ensure that they’re nice and secure after the blocking is finished.
Next thing is to get your blocking area ready. I don’t have any fancy schmancy blocking boards, so I just lay out some big (clean) beach towels on the bed in our spare room a.k.a. the craft room. You’ll also want to fill up your iron/steamer and get it plugged in and heated up. We don’t have a steamer so I always use our plain old iron filled with water, set to the highest temperature setting.
Now the real fun begins – pinning out your project. This can become a bit frustrating at times, especially with a bigger project like this shawl. Don’t give up though! It is SO worth it in the end. I recommend using the big upholstery t pins for this. They’re long and heavy and keep everything in place much better than regular sewing pins.
This is my shawl before pinning, so you can see the measurements before and after. It’s about 61″ end to end and about 26″ from center top to bottom.
I didn’t have a set measurement in my head that I wanted this to be, I just wanted to get it as big as I could. I adore a big luxurious wrap or shawl! However, if you need your project to be a specific size, use your tape measure to guide you as you’re pinning your project out.
I started in the center of the top edge of the shawl and worked my way out, then brought the bottom middle point as far down as it would stretch.
When I started pinning the bottom edge, I worked from side to side. I would pin a point on the left, then move over to the right side and pin the corresponding point to make sure I was keeping everything symmetrical.
This is what it looked liked all pinned out. You can see how much this opened up the stitches and made the pretty patterns more visible.
To steam your project, you want to do whatever it takes to get the most even stream of steam coming out. You also want to keep your iron/steamer really close to your project without actually touching it. Touching your iron to acrylic yarn will result in ‘killing’ the yarn, which isn’t an effect you really want to see in most situations. Move your iron or steamer slowly and steadily over your project until you feel that you’ve gotten good coverage and penetration into the yarn.
I always work in sections to make sure I don’t miss any spots. I’ll sometimes even go over the whole thing a second time to ensure that everything got enough steam.
Once everything is steamed, all you have to do is let it dry and take out the pins! This is what it looked like immediately after taking the pins out. As you can see, it didn’t shrink back up one bit!
I folded it in half end to end in the picture below to make measuring a little easier. What started as about 61″ across and 28″ from top to bottom is now a whopping 72″ across and 36″ from top to bottom. I gained a total of 19″!!!
Now as far as washing a blocked acrylic project goes, I can only think of one time that I read about it being permanent. I wanted to test it out and see what would happen to my blocked shawl after being washed.
So I threw it in the washer on a small load, cold wash and cold rinse, and on the delicate cycle. Once washed, I put it in the dryer on the lowest setting my dryer can manage.
Perhaps the dryer was where I went wrong… I took it out of the dryer thinking that it looked great! However, upon remeasuring, I found that it shrank back to it’s original pre-blocked size.
Unfortunately like most other types of yarn, it wasn’t a permanent fix for me and it will have to be blocked again after each wash. But on the bright side, hopefully I’ve helped some of you with any questions or fears on blocking acrylic! It’s really not as hard as it seems, and it’s definitely worth the few extra steps after you’ve finished knitting or crocheting your project!
I’d love to hear from anyone who’s tried blocking an acrylic project – how did it turn out? did you use an iron or a steamer? have you tried washing and drying it? if so, what were your results?
I hope you’re all having an awesome fall season so far!!